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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. Oscars 2018: Best Foreign Language Film

    I thought BPM (memorable, affecting activist romance) > The Square (bizarre, quite entertaining) > In the Fade (interesting but ultimately slight). Other glaring oversights are Makala (will probably be second on my Best of 2017 list), Faces Places, and Thelma.
  2. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino 2017)

    I watched my "For Your Consideration" screener of this yesterday and thought it was excellent, 4 verging on 4.5 out of 5 stars in my rating system. I had shied away from this after finding A Bigger Splash tedious, and it's subject matter (17 year old falls for young adult assistant to his professor father) seemed dicey. But it's handled maturely, and all three of the leads (Chalamet, Hammer, Stuhlbarg) are superb. Chalamet definitely steals the show, capturing the insecurities of adolescence with a level of authenticity and vulnerability rarely seen. Surprisingly, the film also has perhaps the best parent-child moment I've seen all year, one that grabbed me with its wisdom and pathos. And I loved the way it mingled images of sculpture from antiquity with the main story, illustrating the imprint on the mind of evanescent youthful beauty. And the northern Italian setting is as gorgeous as one would expect.
  3. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

    The more I think about the points made here by Evan and Peter, the more I wish I'd been more nuanced in my review. Sigh. Some good points, y'all. This film still doesn't click for me the way In Bruges did, though. Rockwell's character seems improbably dim, like an even more exaggerated numbnut from a Coen Brothers movie. The music (outside of Burwell's score) felt distracting, rather than complementary, too. It did have a nice cameo for Flannery O'Connor, however.
  4. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

    MORE SPOILERS Your points are well-taken, Evan. It may only be a mini-redemption; the chief's letter to him prompts him towards greater diligence, as he saves the file from the fire. But it's true, that going on a vigilante streak is not exactly redemptive. On a semi-unrelated note, did Mildred say that her ex was also an ex-cop? I thought she said something to the effect of "ex-cop, and ex-wife beater," but it went by too quickly for me to be sure, and the guy next to me at the theater let out a hacking cough at the same time...
  5. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

    SPOILERS AHEAD I think it's a stretch for Scott Renshaw to say the Ebbing police haven't actually done anything wrong. We only have the words on the chief's suicide note to assure us that a thorough investigation was done. This is the same chief who says that Sam Rockwell's character is basically a good guy; never mind that before the movie started, his character had tortured a black suspect. During the movie, we hear him casually make homophobic slurs and later toss an innocent man out a window after beating the shit out of him. So I have to question, how valid is the chief's judgment on the investigation? With events nationwide showing widespread corruption, ineptitude, and unwarranted violence in police departments - quite notably in St Louis and Ferguson, Missouri - I'm going to say that Mildred's frustration is more likely than not justified. (By coincidence, I watched the documentary Whose Streets? the night after seeing Three Billboards. This is the documentary about events in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Mike Brown - an unarmed black man - by Officer Darren Wilson. In it, we see footage of an interview with Darren Wilson, who presents himself as an ordinary family man, not unlike Chief Willoughby. I wonder if McDonagh was thinking about Ferguson, in setting his film in Missouri.) I certainly think McDormand's character goes off her rocker, and that Three Billboards is in large measure a social/moral commentary on revenge fantasies. Gandhi's statement, that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, comes to mind. Nonetheless, there are very few pairs of clean hands in this films. The dentist, an offended upstanding citizen of Ebbing, was prepared to drill into Mildred's mouth sans anesthesia. The priest had the gall to go into Mildred's home and attempt to shame her in front of her son, implying that a lot of her problems arose from failing to go to church. He was totally due for an equally public ass-chewing by Mildred.
  6. Wonderstruck (2017)

    Haynes and Selznick are terrific together here. This'll definitely be making my Best of 2017 list: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/11/yes-wonderstruck-todd-haynes-newest-film/
  7. Harold and Maude

    I'm not an expert on the film by any means, but I've watched it a few times and ranks as a favorite. So I'll give my response to a few of your questions: - I think Ashby handles the revelation of Maude as a Holocaust survivor just right, letting us know subtly that this experience has without doubt profoundly affected Maude's 'embrace the moment,' life-affiriming ethos. I have deep respect for directors who don't belabor key story points, trusting audiences enough to connect the dots. - I think her experience as a Holocaust survivor helps answer your last question: she's had the power of life and death removed from her once before, she's gonna go out on her own terms. (As a doc who's seen many patients linger agonizingly in cold ICUs because their families can't let go of them, I have profound respect for her choice here.) - And I've always presumed that H & M did the deed; I don't see any reason to assume they didn't, and the 'afterwards' scene is set up in the style of a Hollywood post-coital scene.
  8. I'd like Red Beard, s'il vous plait.
  9. A Ghost Story

    I liked it well enough, but it won't come close to making my Best of 2017 list. Here's my review: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/06/david-lowerys-ghost-story-lures-style-though-substance-proves-tougher-grasp/
  10. The Lost City of Z (2016)

    Yeah, this one has only grown in esteem as I've thought back to it. I can't wait to watch it again.
  11. I'm at the top of my library's reserve list for Jon Krakauer's latest, Under the Banner of Heaven. Apparently, he's branching out from his usual reportage on extreme sportsmen (Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, etc.), and writing about extreme Mormon fundamentalists instead. It sounded like an interesting topic to me, but Krakauer's such an evocative writer, I'd read just about anything by him.
  12. Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)

    The first shot went by too quickly for me to tell, but yeah, the actress at the end is definitely not JL. I don't have time to write in detail this morning, but I look forward to reading the reviews linked to here. A fascinating, disturbing film; Lawrence certainly deserves an Oscar nod for her performance here. No time to link, but yesterday's NY Times had a worthwhile interview with Aronofsky and Lawrence. And I can't resist a little snark: I'm guessing Aronofsky didn't reach out to the Christian press for this one?
  13. TIFF 2017

    Yeah, I know, no celebrity sightings out and about Toronto, unlike last year (walked past Agnes Varda at TIFF Lightbox and saw Iggy Pop at the airport). But I've been more impressed with the films on offer. Today included my second 5-star film of 2017 (Makala) and a 4.5-star suspense film out of Norway (Thelma).
  14. One of Us

    The newest film from the co-directors of "Jesus Camp" had its world premiere at TIFF last night, with the co-directors and their documentary's 3 subjects in attendance. This time they're looking at the lives of ex-Hasidim, and I think they've done splendidly. Here's my review: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/09/one-us-struggles-ex-hasidim-vividly-revealed-directors-jesus-camp/
  15. TIFF 2017

    Well, I made our film selections yesterday afternoon, and I'm very happy with how the process shook out this year. I was able to score tix for 6 of my top 10 selections, and I'm hopeful we'll be able to make it in for 2 of the others. I do notice that the tone of the films I chose is lighter than in years past; this wasn't conscious, but in this Year of Trump, I guess I've had enough dourness in current events to make me aim for more upbeat cinematic fare. Saturday 9/9 - I, Tonya - Mary Shelley or Suburbicon Sunday, 9/10 - The Current War - The Square - One of Us Monday, 9/11 - Lean on Pete (our lean day – we may add in Hostiles) Tuesday, 9/12 - Downsizing - BPM Wed, 9/13 - Faces Places - Loving Pablo Thurs, 9/14 - Kings - Marrowbone Fri, 9/15 - Makala - Thelma Sat, 9/16 - Jane - C’est la Vie!
  16. TIFF 2017

    Jessica and I will be there Sept 8-17. I'm still working on my selection list, but at the top are BPM, C'est la Vie (horrible title, though), Downsizing, Faces Places, Happy End, I Tonya, Jane, Kings, Loving Pablo, Marrowbone, Mary Shelley, Molly's Game, Novitiate, Number One, One of Us, Sighted Eyes, Suburbicon, The Children Act, The Current War, The Florida Project, The Insult, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Square, The Third Murder, Thelma, and Three Billboards. So even if my very favorite contemporary directors don't have films showing, there's still plenty that I'm excited to see.
  17. The Good Place

    Sounds appealing, and my family and I are always looking for good comedy on our streaming services - we'll check it out!
  18. Red Beard

    I think Stephen Prince - in probably the best English language book on Kurosawa's career, The Warrior's Camera - considers this connection the most substantially of any writer I've seen. I don't recall coming across any articles or chapters that consider this issue specifically when I wrote my chapter on Kurosawa for the book Ken Morefield edited several years ago. And scanning the index of Prince's book, he name-checks Dostoevsky nearly 20 times.
  19. Red Beard

    I don't know that I want to fully defend that scene, as it is certainly over the top. But I can see why Kurosawa included it, as it shows that Niide is quite capable of reacting violently to try and right the world, yet regrets doing so and has chosen a path of healing instead. I imagine this was an especially relevant point of view for a society that had recently been perceived as an extension of the military for over 10 years. IIRC, Kurosawa was especially inspired by Dostoevsky's The Insulted and the Injured in writing this script.
  20. In this Corner of the World

    This one had escaped my notice; thanks for the recommendation.
  21. Dunkirk

    THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD I dunno, I think a golden mean can be found between fetishizing violence (I only made it through 45 min or so of Hacksaw Ridge before turning it off as war porn) and sanitizing it. With its bloodlessness, Dunkirk erred to the opposite extreme (when bombs drop on a crowded beach, the result will look a whole lot different than what we saw here). And the dangers endured by the characters here (especially the repeated scenes with water filling compartments) felt too movie cliche to me, such that I never felt the main characters in these scenes were actually in grave danger.
  22. 13 Reasons Why

    If you have teens (especially, by my informal survey, teenaged daughters), they've likely already watched this series. In a moment of deep pride for me, my daughter and I co-wrote a review of the series (in which, truth be told, she did the heavy lifting). We both agree that the show is a substantial success aesthetically (using the talents of folks like Jessica Yu, Gregg Araki, and Tom McCarthy), but fails by its irresponsible handling of serious topics like teen suicide and sexual trauma. Here's the link to our full analysis: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/06/high-school-trauma-edutainment-teenagers-dads-responses-13-reasons/
  23. Dunkirk

    Yeah, count me underwhelmed as well. A few major drawbacks to it: 1) it felt too clinical with its near-total lack of character development; 2) some of the CGI effects were unconvincing; 3) the three separate Inception-esque timelines were quite disorienting at first. To be sure, there were some very touching moments, especially around Mark Rylance's character and the civilian rescue efforts. Overall, though, this feels far inferior to Nolan's best work.
  24. Beatriz at Dinner

    After a meh couple of months at the cineplex, this was a good one, and quite timely. Here's my review: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/07/beatriz-dinner-fish-water-parable-time/
  25. I Am Not Your Negro

    I don't tout my work here as often as I used to, but this is the best new film I've seen in almost a year; a perfect meshing of screenwriting, visual, musical, editing, intellectual and emotional content. My full review: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2017/02/not-negro-delivers-unforgettable-look-black-american-experience/